The WWF acknowledges “regret” over human rights violations

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One of the world’s largest charities has known for years that it is funding alleged human rights traffickers but has repeatedly failed to address the issue, a long and lengthy report released on Tuesday said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation It was first published in March 2019 about how the WWF, a favorite nonprofit with the Chude Panda logo, was financed and equipped Park Ranger accused of beating, torturing, sexually harassing, and killing many people. In response, the WWF immediately Commissioned An “independent review” led by former UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pili.

160 page review, which is now done Published online, Corrects issues published in BuzzFeed News Nepal, Cameroon, The Republic of the Congo, And Democratic Republic of the Congo. The report claims that this was prevented by the panel COVID-19 Epidemics from traveling to places where catastrophic events occurred.

The review found that the WWF repeatedly failed to live up to its own “commitment to respect human rights” – a commitment that is not only required by law but also for “conservation of nature.”

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In this Statement Issued in response to the review, the WWF “expressed deep and deepest condolences to those who have been harmed” and said that the abuse by Park Rangers “makes us horrible and goes against the values ​​we stand for”. The charity acknowledged its shortcomings and welcomed the recommendations, saying “we can and will do more.”

Peel’s review refuses to address whether high-level executives who found BuzzFeed News were there Be aware of the “acceleration” of violence At least one wildlife park, in early January 2018, was responsible for the charity Mistops.

In the Congo Basin, where the WWF has done a “particularly weak” job of fulfilling its human rights commitments, wildlife charities have not fully investigated reports of murders, rapes and torture, fearing that government partners will “negatively respond” to attempts to investigate past violations. Found. There and elsewhere, the WWF provided technical and financial support to park rangers locally known as the “Eco-Guards” despite learning of similar, horrific allegations – and, in some cases, later Disgusting review The nonprofit itself has confirmed the veracity of “serious and widespread” reports of abuse by the commission.

The report said that despite allegations of torture, rape, and murder in Nepal, park officials were charged from July to July this year, but there was “no formal action on the part of the WWF to inform the accused of torture.” Beating an indigenous youth And destroyed the homes of a local community. “The WWF needs to know what is happening where it works in order to implement its human rights policy,” the report said.

Frank Beyonc / / Getty Images

A river in the Chitwan National Park in Nepal.

Overall, the WWF paid little attention to credible objectionable allegations, failed to create a system for reporting victims, and painted a picture of excessive earnings from its anti-pet war in public relations, the report found. “Unfortunately, the WWF’s commitment to implementing social policies has not been properly and consistently kept,” the report’s authors wrote.

The WWF has supported efforts to fight wildlife crime for decades. Although local governments formally hire and pay park rangers who patrol national parks and protect wildlife sanctuaries, the WWF has provided significant funding to make their work possible in several countries across Africa and Asia. The charity has created a crusade against poaching in the harsh conditions of war.

In this Multipart series, BuzzFeed News discovers that the WWF’s war is with civilian casualties: poor villagers living near the park. At the time, the WWF responded that many of BuzzFeed’s statements “did not match our understanding of the facts” – yet the charity accelerated many of its human rights policies after the publication.

In the United States, the series encouraged bilateral investigations and Recommended The law would prohibit the government from funding international protection groups that fund or support international human rights violations. It is also a request Funds frozen by the Department of the Interior, A review by the Office of Public Accountability, and separate government investigations in the UK and Germany.

The new review calls for charities to hire more human rights specialists, manage conservation projects with the utmost care before committing to conservation projects, sign human rights commitments with WWF government and law enforcement partners, and make further recommendations, including establishing effective complaints. Indigenous peoples can report abuse more easily.

The review found that there was no “continuous and unified effort” until 2018 to “resolve allegations of human rights violations” across the WWF’s network of global offices.

Many of the panel’s inquiries point directly to the top: “The commitment to respect human rights should be approved at the senior level of the organization,” the panel wrote. Although all WWF offices in the Congo Basin are under the direct control of WWF International, staff at its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland, have made little effort to oversee the organization’s work there.

WWF International did not give clear instructions to local offices on how to implement its human rights commitments. For example, there are no network-wide norms on how to deal with law enforcement and park rangers. As a result, each program office was left to “develop a code of conduct, training materials, conditions to assist rangers, and procedures to respond to allegations of abuse – or not.”

The panel wrote, “Ultimately the responsibility was on the WWF International and the WWF Network to ensure that allegations of human rights violations by eco-guards provided by the WWF with financial and technical assistance were properly addressed.”

Ezekiel Bessera / Getty Images

Marco Lambertini, International Director General of the WWF

BuzzFeed News reported last October that both Director General Marco Lambertini and Chief Operating Officer Dominic O’Neill Review in person A WWF-Commission report documenting the “acceleration” of accounts of violence by WWF-backed guards in Cameroon was sent to high-ups in January 2018 – more than a year before BuzzFeed News published similar abuses. Yet Peely’s review said little about whether WWF officials were responsible for the charity’s failure.

Instead a review focusing on the complex arrangements of the WWF, under which individual program offices partner with countries to “seemingly have very limited advice or oversight of WWF International”, even if WWF International is legally liable. The panel wrote that this resulted in “clear lines of responsibility and accountability” resulting in “difficulties and confusion” and “ineffective” efforts to address human rights.

The panel failed to find a single agreement between WWF International and its partner countries that contained provisions relating to human rights obligations or indigenous rights.

The panel also criticized the WWF’s press briefing, saying “it needs to be more proactive about the challenges it faces” and “be more transparent about how it responds to allegations of human rights abuses.” In some cases, “it is clear that in order to avoid criticism, the WWF Commission has decided not to publish the reports received, to withhold information or to overstate the effectiveness of its proposed responses.”

The internal focus of the “good news” campaign seems to have “led to a culture” where program offices are reluctant to share or increase their knowledge of donors because of concerns about intimidation of donors or allegations of human rights abuses. Has been said. “The WWF at all levels needs to be more transparent internally and externally about the challenges it faces in preserving and promoting and respecting human rights. More importantly, it should be more clear about the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of its efforts to overcome these challenges. “

The report drew immediate criticism from prominent voices who said it did not fully acknowledge responsibility for abusive behavior against indigenous peoples. Stephen Carey, director of Survival International, a tribal rights group, said the report “echoes the WWF’s earlier response to blaming government rangers.”

A spokesman for the Rainforest Foundation UK said the WWF’s response to the report was a “failure to take responsibility” for the WWF’s shortcomings or a sincere apology to many victims of human rights abuses in their name. “

The Forest People’s Program, a domestic rights group that has made objectionable reports to the WWF, said the report showed that all wildlife charities need to keep a close eye on themselves.

“Human rights violations by indigenous peoples and local communities listed in the report are not isolated for the WWF, but highlight the fundamental issues that have arisen across the conservation sector as a whole,” said Helen Tugenhat, program coordinator for the Forest People’s Program. “We urge other conservation agencies, as well as conservation funders, to read this report closely and to evaluate and revise their own procedures.”

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